There’s no question that digital commerce has shortened delivery times for B2B businesses. From working directly with suppliers to improving shipping logistics through big data, ecommerce has allowed B2B sellers to hone their supply chains down to the essentials.
Yet, there’s still plenty of room to improve.
The 2020s will be a defining decade for B2B operations. Businesses that are currently satisfied with their long-standing ways of doing business will find themselves falling behind if they cannot compete online. In the same vein, companies that are able to go digital now will gain a competitive edge that could be decisive, particularly in more saturated markets.
Whether you’re just getting started in ecommerce or have a long-term plan in place, here are a few key areas to keep in mind as you refine your supply chains for 2020 and beyond.
There’s a tug-of-war at the heart of modern B2B. On the one hand, long-standing practices adopted and refined by trusted vendors are still bringing in sales, causing some businesses to question the value of ecommerce. At the same time, global B2B ecommerce sales are expected to hit $3.6 trillion by 2024, quadrupling the number from 2018. Firms that miss out on the digital revolution are leaving considerable money on the table.
The solution is simple: Take an omnichannel approach to your business. Online sales don’t have to make up the lion’s share of your revenue. It would be unwise to expect new customers to immediately arrive once you’ve deployed your app or redesigned your website.
An omnichannel strategy improves your supply chain by providing the right data you need to shorten delivery times and boost your sales strategy with the right insights. When you’re unmissable on every channel, you’ll better understand where you can make improvements.
Know your conversion rates
All of the above is contingent on you not only having the data, but applying it as well. Unfortunately, too many companies are missing out on the opportunity to improve all aspects of their supply chain by refusing to collect and consider their data.
This is particularly crucial when it comes to conversion rates, which a full 40% of companies admit to neither knowing nor tracking. This attitude stems from a misguided belief that online sales just ‘happen’—that simply by being online, your customers can find you.
The truth is more complicated—and more promising. Millennials account for 73% of B2B purchasing decisions; that number will only increase as time goes on. These digital native consumers in their 20s and 30s are bombarded by social media posts, marketing emails, video sales letters (VSLs), and other forms of digital engagement. If your company isn’t making a concerted effort to break through the noise and create new 20- and 30-something lifelong clients, you’re missing out on the largest consumer segment in B2B.
Tracking conversion rates—along with other online metrics, like time-on-page and the geographical location of shoppers—gives you an individual strategy for reassessing your marketing practices. Suffice to say, the millennial consumers who make up the lion’s share of B2B buyers aren’t using fax machines and physical catalogues to do their purchasing. Tailor your approach to the 21st Century buyer, then see what works.
Always be iterative
There’s no room to hold onto practices that may have served well in the past, but have recently become outmoded. Promising new innovations demand, at the very least, your attention—after all, these could be game-changers for your business. By coupling this drive toward adoption with the insights you gain from ecommerce data, the potential for growth is heightened exponentially.
Take automation, for example. With current video monitoring and AI tools, businesses can oversee inventory remotely and shorten shipping times by using robots for pallet delivery. Automatic registration at the warehouse exit frees up employees to focus on more complex tasks.
These kinds of changes can’t happen overnight, but they can’t be ignored either. Like customer data on ecommerce platforms, digitization of warehouses means better data is gathered in real time.
Convincing stakeholders and executives to sign on to these kinds of changes can be difficult. However, when you have proven insights from the metrics you’re tracking, the data speaks for itself. You simply can’t change what you don’t track. Since the 2020s will be an era of change for B2Bs, it’s time to start gathering that data—then following wherever it leads.
Caio Lo Sardo is head of business development at MITO Materials, a supplier of chemical additives for composite manufacturers. Connect with him on LinkedIn.Favorite